Interesting and Fun Dental Facts, Statistics and Trivia for the US

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dental facts
Learn more about your teeth!

You never know when some interesting dental facts will come in handy. Maybe you're trying to figure out how to pay for your dental work. Or perhaps you're looking to make learning more fun for your child with some dental trivia and some fun dental facts for kids.

Or maybe you're simply interested (and who could blame you) in the fascinating world of teeth.

Whatever your reason, it can be difficult to find all of the facts you're looking for, from trustworthy sources, easy to read and in the same place. That's why we've scoured the internet, from the CDC to the ADA to healthcare.gov and back again to compile a list of helpful, interesting, fun and weird dental facts. Whatever the information you seek, we hope you find what you're looking for.

Dental history facts

Our cavemen ancestors were dealing with many of the same oral health issues that we deal with today, even if they didn't know how to articulate those problems as well as we do. And recorded dental history goes as far back as 5000 BCE! So let's take a stroll back through time and learn a little bit about the history of dentistry and teeth in general.

  • In 5000 BCE one of the first dentists made a note attributing dental decay to ‘tooth worms' in a Sumerian text.
  • 2600 BCE marks the death of the world's first (known) dentist. He was named Hesy-Re, an Egyptian native whose tomb reads: “The greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.”
  • From 500–300 BCE Hippocrates and Aristotle dabbled in dentistry, writing about the eruption pattern of teeth, gum disease, tooth extraction and even how to stabilize loose teeth with wires.

Let's jump forward now to the Middle Ages!

  • In 700 the Chinese were using amalgam fillings
  • The year 1210 sees the establishment of the Guild of Barbers in France. These surgeons specialized in bleeding, tooth extraction and of course, haircuts.

Let's skip ahead to the 18th century, when dentistry as a profession was born:

  • In 1723, Pierre Fauchard, the “Father of Modern Dentistry” published “The Surgeon Dentist”, a book that lays out a system for the practice of dentistry including oral anatomy and restorative techniques.
  • From 1750–1770 we have the career of the first dentist, Isaac Greenwood, to be born on American soil. Well, technically British-American soil, but not for long!

US dental statistics

dental statistics
These dental statistics will blow your mind!

And now some general facts about the state of our nation's teeth:

  • 15–20% of adults from 33 to 44 years of age have some form of gum disease.
  • In adults between the ages of 20 and 64, 91% have dental caries and 27% have untreated tooth decay.
  • Untreated tooth decay is higher for Hispanic and non-Hispanic black adults compared with non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic Asian adults, which says a lot about racial inequality in the field of dentistry.
  • Around 50% of Americans visit the dentist every six months, around 15.4% once per year and 11% once every two to three years. More than 21.3% haven't visited a dentist in a few years.
  • There are only around seven dentists per 10,000 patients in the US.
  • 84% of adults in the US between the ages of 18 and 34 say that bad teeth can negatively impact your life.
  • 83% of adults in the US say that their current health-related priority is oral health. This is higher than mental health, exercise, and diet.
  • Fewer than 1/3 of adults 65 and older have dental insurance.

Facts about children's teeth in the US

Although there seems to have been a slight decrease in the number of cavities that children in the US have had over the years, experts say that this decline is not statistically significant. Let's have a look at the current state of children's teeth:

  • Cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases in kids in the US.
  • Children with poor oral health often miss more school and have lower grades than children with good oral health.
  • Around 20% of children aged 5 to 11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
  • Children between 5 and 19 years from low-income families are twice as likely to have cavities compared with children from higher-income households.
  • Fluoride varnish can prevent 33% of cavities in baby teeth.
  • Children who live in communities with fluoridated tap water have fewer cavities than children who don't.
  • Dental sealants can prevent 80% of cavities.

Dental hygiene facts

dental hygiene facts
Dental hygiene is crucial

What do you know about dental hygiene? And what do your peers know? Let's find out!

  • Around 78% of Americans have had at least one cavity by age 17.
  • 80% of the population of the US has some form of gum disease.
  • Three out of four people seen by dental hygienists don't change their toothbrush as often as they should (every three months).
  • You should change your toothbrush after you get sick!
  • Only 13.5% of Americans floss every day.
  • Between 15% and 50% of people suffer from bad breath around the world.

Dental hygienist facts

Dental hygienists are highly trained professionals that help us keep our teeth clean. If you want to make the world a better place, it's not a bad profession to go into:

  • There are over 150,000 registered dental hygienists in the US.
  • 98% of hygienists in the US are women.
  • There are 300 entry-level degree programs, 60-degree completion programs, and 18 master's degree dental hygiene programs.
  • The job market for dental hygienists is very healthy and only expecting to get better!

Dental phobia statistics

If you suffer from dental anxiety, you are not alone. Have a look at these stats, and you'll see that a lot of people in the United States suffer from the same condition.

  • 50 to 80% of adults in the United States have some dental anxiety.
  • More than 20% of dentally anxious patients don't see a dentist regularly.
  • 9 to 15% of patients with dental anxiety avoid dental care altogether.
  • Dental anxiety is higher when pain has been experienced at previous dental visits.
  • In most cases, the earlier you get your kids seeing the dentist regularly, the less dental anxiety they will have.

Wisdom teeth statistics

Despite their association with knowledge, we really don't know a lot of wisdom teeth facts and wisdom teeth removal facts. But here's a look at just a few:

  • Wisdom teeth serve no purpose anymore. They were used for chomping into raw meat and roots. But now we eat softer foods, and we cook a lot of what we eat.
  • The oldest known case of impacted wisdom teeth is from a woman who died 15,000 years ago.
  • Some dentists always recommend the removal of wisdom teeth before there are any problems, while others say removal shouldn't happen unless there's impaction or infection.

Teeth whitening statistics

teeth whitening stats
Tooth whitening is the most commonly requested dental procedure

Chances are you've done it or are at least thinking about it. Teeth whitening is one of the most popular dental procedures. So let's find out more about it:

  • By 2023, it is projected that 38.92 million Americans will have used tooth whiteners.
  • 80% of Americans between 18 and 49 want whiter teeth.
  • 85% of those are women.
  • Americans spent more than $1.4 billion on over-the-counter tooth whitening products last year alone.

Missing teeth statistics

Missing teeth aren't just an aesthetic problem, they also make it more difficult to eat and chew food. And over time, they result in bone loss from your jaw.

  • 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth.
  • 40 million Americans are missing all of their teeth!
  • 30% of adults between the ages of 65 and 74 years have no natural teeth.
  • The most common reasons for losing a tooth are dental decay, gum and bone disease or trauma.

Dental implant facts

Let's have a look at some statistics for this tooth replacement option:

  • Dental implants are considered to be the best way to replace missing teeth.
  • Dental implants have a success rate of 98%.
  • 30% of US general practitioners expect to place implants.
  • Immediate-load implants will comprise around 15% of all implant procedures.
  • The first dental implants could go back as far as 600 AD. The remains of a Mayan woman from that time was found with tooth-like pieces of shell hammered into her jaw! Ouch!
  • Titanium, which is used in dental implants, naturally fuses with bone, which is why these are a permanent solution.
  • Just over 3 million people in the US have implants; not many considering they are the best way to replace teeth! Must be due to the high cost of implants, and the lack of federal funding for dental insurance!
  • The number of implant patients in the US grows by 500,000 per year.
  • Although mini dental implants are considered the best solution in cases when there isn't sufficient bone or gum tissue for standard implants, their use is declining due to the increase in the perception that they don't offer adequate restorative capabilities.

Paying for dental work

  • 59% of adults say they don't go to the dentist because of costs. Did you know that universal healthcare could help solve this problem?
  • 59% of adults have private dental benefits, 7.4% have Medicaid dental benefits and 33.6% have no dental benefits.
  • 38.5% of children have dental benefits through Medicaid or CHIP.
  • 35 states including the District of Columbia provide at least limited dental benefits for adults on Medicaid. That's why it's so important to support these programs!

Teeth facts for kids

Does your little one have healthy teeth?
What about the state of children's teeth?

Get your kids interested in their dental health with these dental fun facts and weird facts about teeth.

  • Natural, healthy teeth aren't actually pure white! They are a slightly yellow color. That's because there's a layer of yellow dentin under the outer layer of enamel.
  • Some babies are born with teeth showing! And some children don't get their first tooth until after age one.
  • Before modern toothbrushes were invented, people used to chew on frayed twigs to clean their teeth.
  • You have over 500 species of bacteria living in your mouth.
  • Scientists can tell how old you are by looking at your teeth.
  • Just like fingerprints, no two tongues are alike!
  • No two teeth in your mouth are the same.
  • In 1950, the Tooth Fairy brought on average 25 cents. Now the Tooth Fairy brings around $2.00 per tooth!
  • A mouth produces an average of 10,000 gallons of spit during a lifetime.
  • At most, you'll probably have 32 adult teeth, and then 28 if you get your wisdom teeth out. The person with the most teeth in the world has 37 and lives in India.

US vs UK

We all know about the stereotype that British people have bad teeth. But are ours really that much better?

  • The average number of missing teeth in a person is higher in the US (7.31) than it is in the UK (6.97)
  • This may be because the US has higher levels of economic inequality compared to the UK.
  • And that in the UK, you can get dental care from the NHS, whereas in the United States you're lucky if you live in a state with state-funded healthcare that covers dental work. Although, there are many people working to get rid of this program as we speak, well, as you read.

If you want to learn more about the differences between our teeth and those of our friends across the ocean, you can read about UK dental facts here.

There you have it! All sorts of interesting dental facts, some informative, some a bit depressing, some optimistic and some just downright strange! Browse our other articles for more information about oral health care.

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Contributors:
Natalie Asmussen
Natalie Asmussen
Natalie Asmussen on LinkedinNatalie Asmussen on Website
Natalie worked in the medical sector for several years and now writes informative content about dentistry and healthcare.
Sources
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